We distributed pieces of yarn, about 12 inches in length, to each student, and broke the students into two groups. They read a passage in the history book, and then another document detailing the same event in history. The second text was chosen in part because it portrays the event with different facts.
After reading each text, we asked a series of questions designed to encourage students to read closely. For example, “Who was Edward H. Moffat?” This historical figure is described very differently in each text. We then asked the students to use their piece of yarn to connect the location in each text so that we could compare. This forced them to be very focused on the textual evidence, before beginning to draw inferences. We then had robust discussion about why the authors chose to describe the person so differently.
The yarn served a great purpose of focusing students on specific evidence, and engaging tactile learners during a difficult reading task. Simple yet effective!
PS Some students chose to tape the yarn in place using restickable highlighter tape.
image by Lori Ann mamawit.wordpress.com